Bunhill: Time to stand still and think of England

Inventors, industrialists and scientists, take a bow. Or rather, stand still, don't blink and stay exactly as you are for hundreds of years. It's your turn to join British soldiers, statesmen and assorted aristocrats in being immortalised as statues.

Under a plan recently outlined by the Department of National Heritage, Britain's wealth creators will one day be cast as heroes in a specially constructed "Avenue of Statues" in London. The aim, says the department, is to give proper recognition to our scientific and industrial heritage.

Not before time, some will say, but it won't be not before time for some time yet. So far, the Government has simply invited the director of the Science Museum to chair a committee on how the project might be funded, where it could go and who might be featured. And if ever there was a quintessentially British invention, it's the committee.

However, the inevitable hiatus means there is plenty of time for the rest of us to stake our claim to immortality. I suggest that those who invent and engineer the following life-changing devices would be fit to stand motionless for eternity alongside the likes of Isambard Brunel.

The self-cutting lawn and the self-washing car. These would certainly save time, although the malevolent forces that might fill the vacuum on Sunday mornings in suburbia are too terrible to contemplate.

The express checkout alarm. Anyone with more than eight items in their shopping basket would automatically activate a high-pitched recording of people muttering in the queue behind them. They would then be chained in leg-irons and pressed into service on a slave ship.

The virtual reality car mechanic. The most important invention, its purpose would be to interpret those garage-land streams of consciousness that routinely leave us humiliated and hard-up. To illustrate:

Car mechanic: "Your diagonal cross-beam's punctured the diaphragm and there's froth in the sprocket valve. D'you want us to sort it now?"

Virtual reality program: "Your steering might go in 20 years' time. It'll cost you a monkey."

CM: "There's a vertebra loose in the rack and pinion, and a brace of pheasants in the zip and oracle."

VRP: "Doesn't compute."

CM: "Your boomerang shaft's displaced the menotronic turbine in the outer astral tube. D'you want to leave it for the MOT?"

VRP: "Ignore him; you haven't got a car."

Ancient Chinese proverb say those who walk home in the rain get wetter than those who run.

A classic Oriental statement of the bleeding obvious? Not at all, for this is just what two US meteorologists set out to prove recently. According to the latest issue of New Scientist, Thomas Peterson and Trevor Wallis from the National Climatic Data Center in North Carolina waited for a wet day and then went out into the field (well, the street, actually) wearing identical clothing. One ran 100 metres, the other walked, and the runner's clothing was shown to have absorbed 40 per cent less water.

There was a point to the test: researchers at the University of Reading had calculated two years ago that however fast you moved, you still got just as soaked. I now look forward to showing these researchers that if they go out in a rainstorm and I stay indoors then one of us won't get wet at all.

None of this is to suggest that science is alone in testing the boundaries of balderdash. For instance, the Economic & Social Research Council has just sent us a briefing pack which admits that "not for nothing is economics known as the 'dismal science' ". It goes on to prove the point by announcing that "housing transactions are characterised by chains", and that "the chances of selling a house depend largely on the right person being available to buy it".

As the singer Ian Dury once observed: "It takes a lot longer to get up North ... the slow way."

Sleaze sandwich

As you might recall from these pages last week, Tesco has unleashed a range of cheese sandwiches to gauge our political and culinary affiliations. We have Blue Stilton for the Tories; Red Leicester, Labour; Double Gloucester, Liberal; Sage Derby, Green Party; and Cheddar with Fruit Cake, Monster Raving Loony Party. The initiative began in mid-March and the first wrapping papers have now been counted in some London stores.

These show, surprisingly, that Red Leicester is being edged out by the fruit cake alliance in the sun-dried socialist borough of Islington, but that it is beating Blue Stilton in the Conservative enclaves of Tesco's City store in Cheapside.

It is hard to say what effect the latest sex and sleaze allegations are having on Tory cheese fortunes but - and call me a crusty old piece of Camembert, if you must - I think you'd have to be monster raving barking to eat a Blue Stilton sandwich.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...